August 31, 2023

Cauz: Lions, Als set a perfect LD Weekend stage

Anyone who goes to the movies with regularity knows that missing the previews is sacrilegious.

It just feels weird to enter the theatre after the trailers are done and the movie is starting as you negotiate your way through the seats. I love a good movie preview; it gives you something to look forward to in the not-so-distant future.

I feel the same way about Saturday’s game between the BC Lions and the Montreal Alouettes. I understand that with it being OK Tire Labour Day Weekend the focus will naturally be on the other three classic rivalry games from Saskatchewan, Hamilton and Calgary, but Week 13 does kickoff with the only match-up between two teams with winning records. That’s not a bad preview of the weekend to come!


OK Tire Labour Day Weekend
» Game Notes: Als, Lions play in LDW for first time in eight years
» Lions, Als Injury Reports: Stay up to date
» Prediction Time: writers’ LD Weekend picks
» Fantasy Sleepers: Mizzell ready to shine?


The old cliché about Labour Day is that the CFL season doesn’t really start till now. Personally, I’ve never subscribed to that belief. A win in June is just as critical as one in September. I understand the idea, though, that games down the stretch take on greater pressure. With every team having completed just over half of their season this is a great opportunity to look at who these teams are today and who they can be by the conclusion of the regular season.

Think of this contest as a football trailer of sorts for both the Alouettes and the Lions. Obviously, it is difficult to predict the future for these teams between now and the end the season but games like this can give us a glimpse into what’s in store.

The biggest question I have for the Lions and the Alouettes: can either organization get into the top-tier of the CFL, where only Toronto and Winnipeg reside? Going into Week 12 both teams had a chance to get inside that exclusive club and in both cases the beefy bouncers at the door looked at their clipboards and did not see “Lions” or “Alouettes” on the guest list. There are four teams in the league with a winning record, including Montreal. The Alouettes have yet to record a victory against the other three, Winnipeg, BC or Toronto. Right now, they are a solid middle class football team. They have a nice home, but the roof needs some work and the commute kind of stinks.

Montreal’s offence will need do to more with its opportunities than just wait for the defence to return another interception for a touchdown. The first three possessions in the second half last week against the Bombers were a quick two and out, followed by two turnovers. Cody Fajardo and Co. will need to live up to the talent that is on this roster for them to be considered a truly dangerous team.

A win against the Lions would be a significant step for this group of Alouettes trying to prove they belong in the same conversation as Toronto. Speaking of the Argonauts, after Labour Day, Montreal will be facing off against the defending champs in back-to-back weeks. This game against the Lions is a formidable tune up before their huge East Division tussle.

On the other side of Saturday’s battle is a Lions team that actually got behind that velvet rope and enjoyed a couple overpriced drinks at the CFL Elite Nite Club. The team started out 3-0 including a 30-6 stunning win over Winnipeg but are .500 since that blowout victory.

The loss to the Tiger-Cats was an odd one for Vernon Adams Jr. and the Lions’ offence. After a Sean Whyte field goal cut the Tiger-Cats lead to 10-6, the Lions had over 200 yards of offence but only two field goals to show for it. The headline was their inability to slow down former teammate James Butler but equally to blame were all the empty calorie drives that produced first downs but not touchdowns.

When the Lions and Als met in Week 5, BC went 3-4 in the red zone and that sort of execution will be needed to collect a road win.

For the first time in 2023 the Lions have suffered back-to-back losses and a loss on Saturday would not only seriously close the door on winning the West, but it would also open a door for Saskatchewan to possibly catch them for second in the Division. Those are the team stakes, but what about on a personal level? How badly do you think Adams wants to win, considering he’s back in Montreal?

The last time Adams was on the field at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium was soon after he had been traded away to the West Coast. In that 31-10 Lions loss, Adams was sacked on his first play from scrimmage and was limited to just three pass attempts before giving way to Antonio Pipkin.

The themes of revenge, redemption and overcoming physical/mental obstacles are all over the first game of this coming Labour Day weekend. That sounds like a pretty good movie trailer. I hope the feature film will be as good.

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